ADHD and Sleep : Children with ADHD

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ADHD Children and Sleep

A recently published study on children, ADHD, and sleep, gives parents good reasons to make sure that their ADHD kids develop good bed-time habits and are in bed as early as possible.

ADHD children need sleepThe study was just published in 2009 in the journal SLEEP. It confirms what many parents already know about their ADHD children or teens, that they simply are not getting enough sleep at night, and that they often wake up tired and sluggish in the morning, which causes other problems all through the day.

The study was led by Dr. Reut Gruber, Ph.D., the director of the Attention, Behaviour, and Sleep Lab, which is a part of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, in Montreal, Quebec. "The Douglas" is associated with McGill University and is also very involved in World Health Organization programs. Dr. Gruber has been studying the effects of a lack of sleep in children for years, including its effects on depression, ADHD, and school performance. She even has done a study on the impact of sleep (or lack of it) on continuous performance test (CPT) performance (tests such as the TOVA). She is a big advocate of teaching children good night-time habits to improve the quality and quantity of their sleep so that their performance through the day may improve.

Lack of Sleep Does Not Cause ADHD

While Dr. Gruber does not believe that a lack of sleep causes ADHD, she does believe that sleep problems make ADHD symptoms worse, which is easy enough to see when thinking about focused attention or impulse control. The study reports that as many as 50% of children and teens with ADHD have reported having sleep problems, which can impair daytime learning and performance.

Reports of this study show that children with ADHD have significantly shorter sleep times than the non-ADHD control group. The children with ADHD in the study got an average of 8 hours, 19 minutes of sleep per night, while the control group averaged 8 hours, 52 minutes of sleep. This missing half-hour of sleep each night adds up over the course of a week, a month, a year. The study also reported that the ADHD children had less REM sleep time each night than the control group.

So parents, this gives us good reasons to consider how our family spends its time from about 7:00pm and later into the evening. Try to structure the evening so that your children can wind-down, relax, and get ready for a full night’s sleep. The results could be better performance at school the following day. ADHD, children, and sleep.

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